Archive

Posts Tagged ‘cambridge’

Book Review: Polly’s Wild Dance: A Life Serialized in Sporadic Spurts by Sydnee Elliot

Book Review: Polly's Wild Dance: A Life Serialized in Sporadic Spurts by Sydnee ElliotSummary:
Now that Polly’s daughter has left home, she finally decides to follow her long-time dream of living on the Greek islands and moves there. But she finds even moving to another country can’t help her escape the memories of her ex-lovers (or, in the case of her daughter’s father, their actual presence). As she ruminates on her life and deals with the difficulties of aging, she wonders if her life has brought her the fulfillment she was after.

Review:
I picked this up during one of Smashwords’ annual summer/winter sales because the premise vaguely reminded me of Under the Tuscan Sun, a movie I’ve always enjoyed. What I got was an older heroine with a more honest mouth and a dirtier past. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I wouldn’t choose to live my life the way the main character lived hers, but I certainly enjoyed it.

The author clearly has either lived in Boston or has done a lot of research. Polly grows up in New England and then lives in either Cambridge or Boston for the early parts of her life. Everything written about Cambridge/Boston is quite accurate, although definitely not always flattering. Since this is the case for the setting of Cambridge/Boston, I came to trust the narrator regarding her experiences in California, Las Vegas, and finally the Greek islands.

Polly is unapologetically crass. Given that this is a fiction book written in the style of an older person’s memoir, I can see how this may be jarring to some readers anticipating a more…grandmotherly style story.  Personally, I enjoy the brutal honesty Polly brings to everything. She paints neither herself nor her family nor her lovers in a positive light. She verges on the side of pessimism. But there’s something I like about that level of honesty.

The edge of his tallis, the prayer shawl worn by Jewish men [Polly is Jewish and raised in a religious home], was folded back over his shoulder, so it wouldn’t touch me. Women aren’t allowed to touch this sacred garment because we’re considered unclean. The folded eight inches of fabric reminded me of one of the reasons why I couldn’t believe in this religion, or any religion. I wanted to crush the tallis with my hands, rub it over my face, arms, along my naked body and against my genitals. (loc 970)

If that passage offends you, the book will most likely offend you. If you enjoy the visceral passion Polly shows in rejecting the religion of her childhood, you will most likely enjoy the book.

The plot mainly revolves around Polly adapting to life in Greece and being haunted by visions of her ex-lovers. Basically, she will think she sees one of her ex-lovers and then tell the story of her time with him. The overarching plot is she is wondering if seeing these hauntings means her life is almost over. Also scattered throughout this plot is Polly coming to terms with being older, her body failing her, the fact that she doesn’t have a constant true love, and accepting that she is nearing the end of her life. Polly has many lovers throughout her life, and it’s clear that sometimes she was seeking one out to use him. Similarly, she is the other woman at least once and not in an accidental way. In a I hope you’ll leave your wife for me way. Polly admits she was bad at love but is also unapologetic about it. She seems lost as to how she could have done better, even right up to choosing her most recent lover.

I wanted to love Andreas. I needed to love him; I needed to love someone, anyone, and he happened to be available. (loc 5985)

While I appreciated Polly’s voice and passion, I also felt extremely sad for her. She never seems to have figured out how to be both passionate about her beliefs and also willing to listen to others. She never seems to have grown beyond the first rebellion stage into self-actualization. In a way, then, while the book has amusing scenes, overall, I found it to be a sad, cautionary tale about how failing to work on yourself, simply letting yourself muddle along, can lead to a wasted life.

Overall, this is an interesting book that features a plot I haven’t seen before. Readers interested in reading something featuring an older person  who failed to actualize or even really realize their mistakes late in life should definitely pick this up. It is well-done.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Smashwords

Buy It

Friday Fun! (Lovecraft Film Fest and Blog Tour Updates)

August 24, 2012 1 comment

Hello my lovely readers!

You might not all know of my love for the Lovecraft universe, but it is intense. I think it is wonderfully creative horror, I love that Lovecraft encouraged other authors to enter and use his world, and I even have a piece of art of Cthulhu rising from the ocean and rocking out on a guitar.  It will probably come as no shock then since I’ve already written about zombies that my next book will be set in the Lovecraftverse.  So it was wonderful timing that a local indie theater, the Brattle, had a Lovecraft film festival last weekend.  Clearly I had to go!  I wasn’t able to make it to every night, but I went the last night (on Sunday) when they showed In the Mouth of Madness, which just so happens to be a John Carpenter film. (You know, the dude who made Escape from New York?)

The cool thing about the Brattle, besides being an indie theater that shows old and new films, is that they sell beer and wine to drink during the movie. How cool is that?! I know. So cool.

So I had a nice beer of some sort and settled in to watch the movie.  It basically is about the dark ones crossing over into our reality due to an opening made by a horror writer named Sutter Cane (who clearly is supposed to be Stephen King).  It was intensely meta, and I loved it!  Highly recommended.

And now it’s time for the weekly Waiting For Daybreak blog tour updates!  There’s only a week left in the tour. Hard to believe, huh?  This was a busy week!

Offbeat Vagabond posted a review where she states, “I would love to see this made into a movie/TV show. This would look and feel great. Waiting For Daybreak will give you such a unique outlook on the world through Frieda’s eyes. Highly recommended.”

Offbeat Vagabond also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out what authors inspire me.  She also is running a giveaway that ends today, so be sure to enter that right away if you want another chance at a free copy!

Mervi’s Book Reviews posted a review stating, “The story’s strength is definitely Frieda who has to confront her inner demons in addition to the zombies. She also doesn’t go the usual way of becoming somehow cured or getting some powers to survive.”

Blood, Sweat, and Books also posted a review where she states, “Waiting For Daybreak has just enough Action, Romance, and Angst to satisfy even the most jaded Zombie fan.  I look forward to reading more from this Author.”

Blood, Sweat, and Books also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out what my favorite quote is.

Paperless Reading posted a review, where he states, “Even though Waiting for Daybreak is a quick read, it has a fully fleshed out story with a fascinating and different lead character and is very entertaining overall.”

Last but not least, An Eclectic Bookshelf posted a review stating, “This was an entertaining post apocalyptic zombie novel that also makes the reader think about how the normalcy of life is relative. It isn’t always a light and easy novel to read due the characters McNeil has utilised but these characters are what make it unique. I think any fan of post apocalyptic survival horror that is after something a little bit different and thought provoking will enjoy this.”

I was also interviewed at An Eclectic Bookshelf.  Check that out to find out what books have had the greatest influence on me.

That’s it for the tour for this week!  Thanks once again to every participating blog!

And to my blog followers, happy weekends!

Publication Announcement: Short Story in Down in the Dirt magazine February 2012 volume 103

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello my lovely readers!

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that my literary short story “The Most Lovely Morning” is now available in the February 2012 volume 103 issue of Down in the Dirt magazine!!

Tag along on an elderly woman’s morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Also, there’s a surprise ending. 😉

You can read it for free electronically or get a print copy of the magazine for $7.67.  Permanent links have been added to my publications page.  Happy reading!

Best Discoveries of 2009–Boston Places, Web Clips, and Recipes

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday you got to see my best discoveries–aka I encountered them for the first time–of 2009 in movies, tv shows, and websites.  The day before in my reading stats for 2009 you saw my favorite books I discovered.  Today I’ll be finishing up my discoveries lists with Boston places, web clips, and recipes!

Boston Places

  • The Friendly Toast (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA)
    Known as a hipster joint, this restaurant serves breakfast/brunch foods all day long.  It’s decorated with fun vintage posters, many of which are scifi themed.  The portion sizes are huge!  You really get the bang for your buck here, and vegetarian options are numerous.  You even can get vegetarian sausage!  The servers are also super-friendly.  This is currently my favorite breakfast place in Boston.
  • Berk’s Store (50 JFK St, Cambridge, MA)
    I was hunting everywhere for waterproof knee-high boots without a heel, when I wandered into this store.  Crowded into a small space is the best shoe store I’ve found in Boston.  The styles reflect the needs of Bostonians–good for walking and the weather without sacrificing style.  The employees are friendly and–get this!–you can put a deposit on shoes and have them hold them for you to pick up later without paying anything extra.  This is great for if you find a great pair of shoes/boots but don’t want to drag them on your commute with you.
  • Boston Bed Company (1113 Comm Ave, Boston, MA)
    More than just mattresses, they offer bed frames, bedroom furniture, living room furniture, sofas, and chairs.  This business is locally-owned, and they understand Bostonian’s needs.  Everything is reasonably priced, the sales associates are friendly but also understand giving you space to wander about the store on your own, and you get free delivery (over a certain price point, which I forget right now, but I easily reached it when buying my mattress and box spring).  Definitely check them out for any furniture needs.
  • Hootenanny (36 JFK St aka The Garage, Cambridge, MA)
    The clothing off-shoot of Newbury Comics, this store is great for funky clothing, shoes, and bags.  I got my Glomits there, as well as a steampunk skirt and dress.  They also offer vegan shoes for my vegan friends.  The prices can be a bit steep on some items, but they have continuous sales which knocks them right down to reasonable.
  • Jacob Realty (279 Newbury St, Boston, MA)
    I had to apartment hunt this year, and after many phone calls that ended with me mad at an agent who couldn’t accept my price limit as a real price limit, I finally landed on Jacob Realty.  My realtor actually listened to me and treated me with respect, and she helped me land a great apartment!  Definitely check them out if you’re on the apartment hunt.

Web Clips (yes I know there’s a lot of cats on this list)

Recipes

  • Emeril’s Vegetarian Egg Rolls
    Confession.  I have a deep fryer, and for my housewarming party I wanted to use it.  I’d made egg rolls with my dad when I was a kid, but those were meat-filled (this was before I went veg).  Anyway, I was shocked to discover Emeril has a vegetarian recipe.  They require a bit of work what with making up the filling and wrapping them, but they came out very good.  Even my friends who don’t like egg rolls liked these.
  • Little House Apple Pie (The Little House Cookbook: Fronteir Food from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker)
    I’d gone apple picking with two of my best buddies, and I wanted to make apple pie.  The problem was that I’d never gotten the family recipe from my mother who I disowned, so I needed to find a good new recipe.  Omg, people, you should ditch family recipes more often.  This pie is so good!  Side-note, I always use Emeril’s Basic Sweet Pie Crust with my pies.
  • Vegan Sweet Potato Latkes (current issue of Vegetarian Times, apparently isn’t on their website yet)
    I wanted to make latkes for my Chrismukkah gathering, but wanted a healthier version than the traditional one.  I love sweet potatoes and already had a stash of them, so this seemed like it’d be cool to try.  Instead of eggs, the recipe has you boil some sweet potatoes and mash them to use for binding the shredded potato together.  I was skeptical as to whether this would work, but it totally did.  These were a big hit.

That’s it for my best-of lists!  Hopefully next year I’ll have more recipes to share with you guys.  I hope you all made some fun discoveries of your own in 2009.